Category: Heroes

Kate Raworth – The Seer With A Solution

by Laura Sykes
Only 2.39 minutes of your life – If you look at nothing else in this issue, please watch this. Also called ‘Doughnut Economics’
A renegade economist focused on exploring the economic mindset needed to address the 21st century’s social and ecological challenges…the creator of the Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries.” Kate Raworth
This is how Kate Raworth describes herself on her website – and yes, she is the sister of Sophie – quite a family! You can read extracts from her book, ‘Doughnut Economics’ here. This was published in 2017 and Kate has been indefatigable in spreading the word through conferences, lectures and articles. Earlier still is her 2014 TED talk in Athens. Her concept is highly regarded and well known to the cognoscenti. It is as new and important a way of looking at the world around us as was Einstein’s Theory of Relativity in its time. Kate’s ‘big idea’, I promise you, is much easier to understand than Einstein’s. (And, as I shall no doubt get into trouble for saying, more important). Do please dip a little into her world and see how her framework for understanding our environment (and how to live in it in a way that can be mutually beneficial and life-enhancing) needs to be spread by word of mouth until it is the most discussed subject of our time. Kate does not claim that her big idea came out of nowhere: on the contrary it builds on solid research like the work on planetary boundaries by for example Johan Rockström and colleagues:
…we propose a framework based on ‘planetary boundaries’. These boundaries define the safe operating space for humanity with respect to the Earth system and are associated with the planet’s biophysical subsystems or processes. Although Earth’s complex systems sometimes respond smoothly to changing pressures, it seems that this will prove to be the exception rather than the rule. Many subsystems of Earth react in a nonlinear, often abrupt, way, and are particularly sensitive around threshold levels of certain key variables. If these thresholds are crossed, then important subsystems, such as a monsoon system, could shift into a new state, often with deleterious or potentially even disastrous consequences for humans. Scheffer, M., Carpenter, S. R., Foley, J. A., Folke C. & Walker, B. H. Nature 413, 591–596 (2001). Lenton, T. M. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 105, 1786–1793
As we gradually emerge from into a post-pandemic world, the international economic system finds itself in a state of flux. Coupled with the climate emergency, now, if ever, is the time to introduce Kate Raworth’s ideas on a global scale. I call her a ‘seer’, not only because she is a wise woman whom we need to listen to, but also because she is a ‘see-er’, one of those people who come along every century or two and show us a different way of looking at our situation which potentially offers both economic and environmental salvation. Doughnut Economics is successfully permeating the political world: it was one of the major topics of the Green Liberal Democrat conference in June 2020 and in October 2020 was adopted as official policy by the Women’s Equality Party. Sir David Attenborough’s ‘A Life On Our Planet’, not only discusses the link between COVID and human destruction of nature, but also includes the Doughnut Model as part of the solution to biodiversity loss and the climate crisis or, as the Doughnut Economics Action Lab cannot resist summarising ‘David Attenborough Digs the Doughnut‘. Doughnut Economics models are being adopted or considered for adoption in real time in Amsterdam, Barbados, Brussels, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Scotland, the UK, Wales, and others. You can subscribe to DEAL’s You Tube channel here. They are on Twitter at @DoughnutEcon. I am not the only one who thinks that Doughnut Economics is the most revolutionary idea which has been floated in my lifetime, and it offers us a glimpse of a better world which may even be possible. In conclusion: How can a Book Change the World? The theory of action behind Kate Raworth and the Doughnut Economics Action Lab “The Amsterdam Donut Coalition is a good example: they just announced that they were starting up, and have since inspired many other places to follow their example. We as DEAL didn’t have this planned – it just happened – so we have adapted to work with it. Now there are local groups setting up worldwide, and co-ordinating with each other.”
So when anyone asks us … do you convince / persuade a government / multinational corporation/ person to change – we don’t claim to have the answer. At this stage of our work at least, we have far more than we can manage to do by simply working with those who are already persuaded and are getting into action, so that’s where we focus. And we know this work complements the roles that so many other organizations are playing. We all need each other contributions to the whole – hence the importance of creating an ecosystem of new economic change-makers.’ From Poverty to Power

Diana Iwi : A Portrait – Laura Sykes

I’ve been a member [of the LibDems] for around 55 years. I’ve been a {successful} agent/organiser. I’ve hosted discussion evenings, I’ve delivered leaflets. I’m now old and easily muddled and need a friend to help me around the internet – BUT – I can still spot mistakes and see much better ways of getting to a better civilisation than our present system of always ensuring there is so much money to be made from contracting out, enriching the firms who do the contracting – ie privatisation. That’s why I still go on! Diana Iwi
Them’s fighting words from a doughty political campaigner, who stood in the 2018 Barnet local election, as the Liberal Democrat candidate for East Finchley. After a childhood spent travelling round the Far East and Africa with her parents, Diana Iwi, nee Cooper*, has been what used to be called a ‘Hampstead intellectual’, now according to The Guardian the ‘North London metropolitan elite‘, as was the family she married into. Her father-in-law, Edward Iwi, was a solicitor by profession but constitutional expert by inclination: Sir George Coldstream, Lord Kilmuir’s private secretary, advised 10 Downing Street:
The trouble with Iwi is that he usually puts his finger on an awkward question … You will no doubt recall that Iwi has on several occasions proved right and on at least one of these occasions he could have caused the government great embarrassment – I refer to the unfortunate mistake by which Princess Arthur of Connaught was named as a Counsellor of State in 1944. Iwi spotted the error but was good enough to keep quiet about it. … [He should be told] in friendly terms to keep his mouth shut. Wikipedia entry on Edward Iwi, which also explains that the choice of the surname Mountbatten-Windsor from Prince Andrew onwards was partly at the instigation of Iwi.
I have digressed into this description of Diana’s father-in-law because it shows the fighting spirit, the determination to stand up for the truth in the face of political inconvenience which has been the background from which she has operated. It also exemplifies the ingrained ability to analyse a situation and propose a solution. Being a loyal member of the Liberal Democrats for 55 years, during which time the party you belong to has not been in power except for the brief heady moment of coalition at the time of Cameron, needs grit and determination, an unwavering support for the political truth as you see it, come what may. Diana has also been a supportive rock for the leadership of the Green Liberal Democrats, of which she was a founder member. On behalf of the Green Liberal Democrats, Diana, we echo Tim Farron’s appreciation for all that you have done and continue to do on behalf of the cause. Thank-you for being you!

*not to be confused with her sister-in-law, Diana Iwi nee Leben

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